In Ephesians 4, prisoner Paul urges his Christian brothers and sisters to “walk worthy” of their call. His rationale is found just preceding in chapter 3. He reasons that because Christ is able to do far more than we can ask or imagine, and because he will do so by his power and for his glory through us, we, therefore (Ephesians 4:1), must walk worthy. How?
Humility. Gentleness. Patience. Longsuffering. Love. Peace.
These are the ways in which we “walk worthy” of the gospel. The goal is unity. Paul makes himself very clear. He reminds his readers that there is but one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all. Paul is looking for these Christians to transform from sinners who were all going their own ways to saints all going the same way. The chief end is unity, oneness, peace, and mutual edification. Christ wants us to do the same.
Little wonder why he uses the “body” as an illustration. As he goes on to differentiate between different giftings, he continues his insistence on unity. One body; different gifts. In other words, don’t fight over them. They are different, not better or worse. And they all belong together; working together. Just as we don’t cut off our hands or ears when they fail to function the same as our feet or our eyes, we ought never to disregard or dispose of other believers when we discover our differences. Neither should those differences debilitate us in any way. On the contrary! Our differences ought to complement us! As we come together and cooperate, we grow up into a mature, living, whole body.
Unity is how we will grow.
Unity is how we will stand firm.
Unity is how we will avoid being deceived.
Unity is how we will be strengthened in love.
But unity will take work. It will require humility when pride is welling up like a storm. It will require gentleness when being harsh seems more than fitting. It will require patience when we’ve been waiting for what seems like an eternity. It will require longsuffering when we have already suffered longer than we could have ever imagined. It will require love when others have proved unlovely at best. It will require peace when our flesh begs for war. Is it worth the trouble, church? Paul insists.
These are the thoughts I collect as my wandering heart wonders how God will ever right the odious discord that still exists in my own life. How do I speak the very necessary truth in love when I have been hated? How do I exercise earnest humility in the face of raging pride? Or worse, what of humility when the pride is mine? How will gentleness avoid giving way to arrogance when patronizing insincerity and condescension begins? Worse yet, what if I am patronizing and insincere? What of when I condescend? Lord, let it not be!
Perhaps it is not time. Perhaps God will try my patience…more. Perhaps he will ask me to suffer long…er. Perhaps this learning to hold my ever untamed tongue is, in itself, peacemaking. I don’t know for sure, but I know He will lead the way. He will choose the time. He will mend the brokenness and heal the pain. I have precious little doubt that two hard-to-swallow words answer every last one of my questions: “Trust Him.”
God help me walk straight. Help me to walk worthy as I wait. I know you can do much more than I have asked in ways I can’t even begin to imagine. For your own glory, bring harmony to your body.